Sweet Inspiration – The Temper Trap Reveal Their Heroes

Like countryfolk Howling Bells before them, Melbourne-borne outfit The Temper Trap decided to hightail it to London earlier this year to record their debut LP, and later opted to reside in the capital’s east end for the foreseeable future.

Smoother than coral and slicker than a late-’80s Jason Donovan, you might know them as the band whose ‘Sweet Disposition’ rescued new ‘indie’ rom-com ‘(500) Days Of Summer’ from shmaltz hell.

Here NME uncovers the ten inspirations that got the quartet hot under the collar for their quixotically serene debut ‘Conditions’.


1) Martin Luther King


Lorenzo Sillitto (guitar): “First and foremost he was a massively important black activist in 1960s America who was into non-violent protests. When most people wanted to stand up and fight, he was saying that you could be strong if you used your brain against those that are oppressing you. I hate arguments and I tend to stay away from confrontation. I don’t think we are a very confrontational band at all and we tend not to argue.”

Dougie Mandagi (vocals/guitar): “He was a very logical and very smart man who just stood up for equality. He had an overly profound wisdom about him that I think a lot of people should look to.”

2) Wayne Coyne

Jonathon ‘Johnny’ Aherne (bass): “I love the Flaming Lips. When I was 15 Dougie and I went to the Big Day Out festival. They put on an incredible live show. Coyne’s able to take you to a whole other world. There are a few moments when you are completely able to forget everything. Where you can just stop and enjoy creativity and think, ‘This is cool. Life’s not bad’.”

3) Prince


Dougie: “Prince is just such an amazing artist. He plays all the instruments on his records. I think if I had to pick a Prince era I was more into it would be his sexy songs. Although, I think ‘Diamonds And Pearls’ is my favourite track, which really isn’t his sexiest song. It’s just a great sing along song and he’s such an underrated guitarist. He’s definitely an influence on my singing style.”

Toby Dundas Michael Nixon (drums): “Although, I totally hate funk.”

Lorenzo: “Every time I come up with something that has a funk element, Toby starts screaming that it’s too much.”

Dougie: “But having said that I definitely think there is a groove to our music.”

4) Francis Ford Coppola


Toby: “He’s an American film director who made some amazing films like ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’. It’s a streak that will never be bettered. With ‘Apocalypse Now’ he took everything he had financially and put it into his own production company to go to the Philippines. He had the conviction to put his whole life on the line to make this film because he wanted to share his story with the world.”

5) John Coltrane


Lorenzo: “Like David Bowie, he went through a lot of transitions. He took playing saxophone to a new level. With ‘A Love Supreme’, which is his seminal record, he had this vision where he wanted to take the music. It was supposed to be this spiritual experience – not necessarily in a religious way – he just wanted to evoke a feeling inside of you when you listen to the record. He experienced some friction with the players that he had. I think in terms of our band situation we do that in terms of sounds and parts. Dougie will freely say ‘I don’t like that guitar part’, so we’ll just scrap it and come up with something else. Or Toby might say…”

Toby: “…No funk!”

Lorenzo: “Sometimes unfortunately people have to make sacrifices, but it’s always for the greater good.”

6) Chopper Read

Johnny: “You’ve got to watch the movie about this guy.”

Toby: “Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read was a famous Australian standover man. He started off his career robbing drug dealers. He’s never been convicted of murder but it’s been alleged that he has killed a few people. Once he got out of prison he became quite a normal guy. He lived across the road from my girlfriend. He pulled pints down at the local pub. He wrote books, does really bad painting. He put out a rap song. He’s basically become an Aussi larrikin figure. There’s something about the way he’s managed to see the light. He’s found some redemption in his later life.”

Dougie: “I think some of our songs touch on that theme of redemption too, like ‘Love Lost’ and ‘Down River’.”

7) Michael Jordan


Dougie: “Michael Jordan: half man, half amazing as they say. I just love the man. He’s this incredible basketball player who for a time quit the game to play baseball but was absolutely shit at it, and then returned to play basketball and won three championships in a row. I played at high school but I was crap. I mean, I was on the team but I just did it to get girls. I don’t think I’d like to be a basketball player now. It’s just too much work. It’s unjustifiable how much these players get paid too. We work hard, too, you know, but we have the luxury of chilling out at home and not having to train.”

8) Bono


Dougie: “I’ve met more haters for this guy than not. It’s amazing that someone can have that affect on people.”

Johnny: “He is such a complex guy. I guess, first off I’d like to comment on his music and his lyrics. I find them quite honest and intriguing. Then there’s the things he’s done for the RED campaign, which raises money to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria around the world. He’s helped feed people, you know. A lot of people think he is just some arrogant rock star but I just look at the results. I find him very captivating.”

9) David Bowie

Dougie: “David Bowie is one of those people who’s always stayed ahead of the pack and continues to reinvent himself when others are latching onto his past. I just think for a white artist he has a lot of soul in his vocal delivery, especially in his later stuff, which I’m particularly attracted to. When we were writing songs for the new album I think a few of us had been listening to Bowie and it definitely infiltrated into our songs.”

10) Jimmy Stynes

Lorenzo: “He’s an Irish Australian footballer.”

Toby: “He was a young kid from Ireland that had never played Australian rules football.”

Lorenzo: “Basically, he’s an inspiration because he plays for the football team that both Toby and I support, Melbourne Football Club. He played 244 consecutive games over a 15 year period. I don’t think anyone will ever go near beating that. Outside of that he’s done a lot of charity work for cancer organisations. The sad thing now is that he actually has cancer. I suppose that’s why he’s inspiring.”